If you want to improve almost any aspect of your life, you track it. Want to improve your physical health? Track your exercise. Want to improve your nutrition? Track your diet. Want to improve your mindset? Track your meditations. You get the idea. Intentional tracking leads to behavior change and results.
Some of our most frequent questions from financial advisors come in the form of activity recommendations. Advisors want to grow and want to know which activities they should perform, and how often they should perform them. In theory, it should be pretty simple. We as a company could produce one simple tracking sheet that, if followed, would lead any advisor to client acquisition success. The reality is it’s more nuanced than that. We all have unique strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that should be considered.
That said, we have found one activity that pretty much every advisor should track:
How many times did you ask for the business?
More specifically, how many times did you proactively ask a social contact to have a business conversation with you? Here’s why we feel so strongly about this activity:
- It largely determines your success in social prospecting.
- It forces you to be active in the community.
- It forces you to develop relationships with affluent people.
- It lets prospective clients know you are open for business.
- It takes you from being reactive to being proactive.
It’s All in Your Head
Are affluent investors open to working with someone they know socially? Let’s look at some of our latest research on 1,004 affluent investors with $500,000 or more in investable assets. Only 12% of investors say they are unwilling to work with a financial advisor they know socially.
There are countless excuses for not executing this metric. Here are three I hear on repeat:
- “People know what I do for a living. If they need me, they’ll ask.” Well, probably not as often as you’d like.
- “I don’t want to be perceived as a pushy salesperson.” Our affluent research reveals that the main reasons someone comes across as salesy is “not taking no for an answer” and “aggressive follow-up.” Be willing to accept a “no” and change the conversation.
- “I don’t want to ruin a friendship.” If offering to discuss business with a friend loses a friendship, were they truly friends?
Refine Your Request
Now that we’ve addressed some common mental hurdles, let’s discuss your approach. What does a good business request look like?
Top advisors work up the courage to say things like, “You and I have never had a chance to visit about what I do professionally. Are you open to lunch next week?” It works … and they aren’t seen as social pariahs.
That said, don’t soften your request too much or it will become ineffective. For example, don’t say “If you ever want me to take a look at your financial situation, let me know.” While that may feel more comfortable, prospects typically respond with “sounds good” and the relationship doesn’t progress. Be a little more assertive and reap the benefits.
Kevin Nichols is a partner with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com